All Olmert But The Shoutin'

by David Weigel

Israelis to their Knesset leadership: Drop dead.

The Israeli government came under increased pressure today with the publication of a newspaper poll showing that for the first time a majority want Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to resign over perceived failings in his handling of the war with Hizbullah.A poll in the mass-circulation Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper showed 63% want Mr Olmert to go.

The defence minister, Amir Peretz, appears even more vulnerable with 74% calling for his resignation, while 54% want the chief of staff, Lieutenant General Dan Halutz, to resign as well.

Who's going to break it to the Israelis that their undermining of the prime minister is emboldening the enemy? Ken Mehlman to Tel Aviv, ASAP!

UPDATE: Philip Klein at the American Spectator makes a valid point:

That comparison makes some sense and I've personally never made the "don't criticize the president during wartime" argument because I know that if I disagreed with the president, I wouldn't want to be silent. But a crucial difference is that


is a parliamentary system in which elections can be held at any time. So, by calling for Olmert to go, there's a better chance that a new government will be put in place. And that's quite common. However, in the American form of government, barring an extraordinary set of circumstances, a president who gets elected is going to serve out a full four years. Only once has a president been forced to resign, and it had nothing to do with policy. So, by not just criticizing but villainizing the president, you're just weakening someone who, like it or not, is going to be in power through the next election.

The dynamics of Israeli and American politics are different, sure, but not all criticism of the president is "villainizing." Long-term, honest public pressure can force an administration to make changes or change course on a failed policy. It works on domestic issues: witness the Porkbusters campaign, which has rapped the president and Congress without apologies in an effort to shame them into cutting spending. The American public has been clamoring for a change of course in Iraq for months now; I think the GOP could have done all of us a favor by responding and opening investigations into the conduct of war, instead of resorting to the "you're undermining the president/troops" political attacks.